Sunday, December 13, 2015

The curling ambassador

He is now 91 years old, and he shuffled into the Detroit Curling Club yesterday afternoon just minutes after I had told a story about him. The same story in fact which I am about to tell you, in an abbreviated version. Joe's got curling in his heart, and is the reason I curl. That is, the reason after my wife put my name in for an open house at the aforementioned DCC. He's the man who came up to me after my short introduction to curling that day to make sure that I had had enjoyed my first curling experience and, hearing that I had, invited me back. He is Joe Livermore, and I'm very glad I was able to see him today.

He was a bit of an imposing figure 30 some years ago, yet he was friendly and earnest. Seeing me standing at the glass watching more curling from the viewing area after my time on the ice was done on the evening of that open house, Joe came over and asked, "Ya have fun?"

"Yes I did", I answered honestly.

"Come to Sinners this Sunday at 9," he said. Often, for a joke, I like to make that sound as though it were a command. But it wasn't. It was an invite, and I knew by his voice that it was sincere. Heartfelt. Joe wanted me to curl. He loved the game and wanted me to love it to.

I should tell you that Sinners Breakfast is an old tradition at the Detroit Curling Club, obviously because it is held on Sunday mornings when you should be at Church. But I fooled them. I'm a Saturday Catholic, so my Sunday obligation had been seen to before Sinners.

Breakfast was served, and I remember distinctly that Joe himself had made up a great batch of friend mushrooms as part of the meal. After breakfast, anyone who wanted to play signed up for a curling match. I did, of course, and enjoyed it more than I had my introduction to the game a few days before. When it was over Joe found me and asked again, "Ya have fun?"

I sure did, I told him. "Be here tomorrow night at 6:45 for the Monday league. We'll get you in a game." I went the next night and have not stopped curling since. Yeah, at times now I think I want to hang it up, but I'm probably fooling myself. It's a grand game. It has grand people playing it.

Joe's first question to me yesterday was, "Are ya still curling?" He knew I didn't curl out of Detroit anymore. He didn't care. I still curled, and that's what mattered to him. We chatted a few more minutes, and then it was game time for me; I was curling at Detroit in a tournament. He let me go, knowing that the game's the thing.

He always taught that curlers should be ambassadors for the game. Joe, in my book, you are the Curling Ambassador.

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